Whales at Bonar Bridge

Whales at Bonar Bridge

Year: 1927 | Included in Albums: Occasions / Places

Photo Description

This post card shows a stranding of a school of whales off Bonar bridge in October, 1927. The bridge shown here replaced the one built in 1811/12 - see picture #41 Old Bonar Bridge.

Cat No. 2205.1
Year 1927
Albums Occasions / Places
Date added February 26th, 2004
Added by Tain & District Museum
3 Visitor Comments
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    Andrew Mackenzie

    I have an original of this photo, or very similar. I am interested to know if you have more old photo of Bonar in the museum. If so I will visit next time I am home.

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    Willma Swanson (nee Mackenzie)

    I am very interested in Bonar as my family originated from a small croft in Migdale. I have photos of the croft now derelict . The photo of the 1st world war soldier was a man called Alexander Mackenzie and his family, one wee boy being my Granddad, William from Migdale. I would love any feed back. Tom Mackenzie, Jim Mackenzie were also popular figures in Bonar. They had shops and Jim drove the school bus. It is a shell beside the ruined croft. I would love to see photos of the community and place during the last century. I have photos I would like to send you. I have a rent book from the croft late 17th century which I saved on one of my visits. The ruin was exposed to the elements and we saved it.

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    Janey Clarke

    In the booklet 'Edderton History' put together by Edderton Primary School for the Millenium, there is an account of this beaching of these whales. From time to time whales and dolphins aground in the Dornoch Firth, generally these have been Caa'ing (Pilot) whales and bottlenose dolphins. But an incident of great interest to Edderton happened about 20-21st October 1927. A large school of Pseudorca Crassidens or False Killer Whales were starnded by a high tide that left their bodies deposited along the 30 miles of beaches all the way up the firth to Ardgay on both sides and the sand banks in between. There were so many potentially decaying carasses that Sir Robert Brooke of Mid Fearn, Edderton who was chairman of Ross-shire County Council decided to start towing the whales out to sea to avert a public health worry. (As the Receiver of Wrecks apparently got his locations wrong, and the Board of Trade and Health Authority were slow in taking any decisions, Sir Robert probably had good reason for taking action). However a man from the British Museum, M A C Hinton, Deputy Keeper of Zoology at the Museum of Natural History, whose scientific enthusiasm for a whale which up to then had been considered rather scarce, convinced Sir Robert to help collect specimens for the Museum. A 'station' was set up on the peninsula across from Fearn to Creich. Sir Robert's two motor boats, WAVE and FRAM and ALONA belonging to Mr. Chance of Spinningdale, towed whales to the site where some 20 men at a time worked at flensing them. 127 skeletons and two whole caracases (a cow and a bull) were sent to London up to December 1927. Considering possible predation, souvenir hunters etc the number of whales stranded must have been very great. Yet the only obvious reminders of this natural spectacle are memories of older local people, a photograph belonging to Charlie Brooke and a jawbone collected and donated to Tain Museum by Alec (Ferry) Mackay. I remember my father, Reay Clarke telling me about being taken to see the whales. He said the smell was dreadful. He was four years old. He contibuted a lot of material about Edderton to the Edderton Primary School 'Edderton History' so the account may have come from him. False killer whales (so it says in Edderton History) are actually one of the largest species of dolphinn. The males may reach 6.1m (20ft) but more commonly measure 5.5m long and weigh up to 1400kg.

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